Extraordinary wildlife not afraid of humans, fascinating evolutionary history and beautiful volcanic landscapes make Galapagos like nowhere else on earth. From walking with giant tortoises in forests of giant daisies, to snorkelling alongside the only sea going lizard in the world, little wonder Galapagos wildlife vacations top many nature lovers’ bucket list!
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Combine Galapagos with Ecuador and its wildlife packed Andes to Amazon regions, and you have the ultimate wildlife trip. Each trip we create is unique but here are 3 of our favourite Ecuador and Galapagos wildlife vacations to give you a taste of what is possible.
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Travel in a time of uncertainty…
Now travel has resumed, planning your Galapagos vacation should be a source of excitement, but making sense of all the travel regulations can be a headache. We follow developments in Ecuador, Peru and Galapagos incredibly closely so we have all the latest information on hand.
Having all the latest information and expert teams on the ground helps us take the uncertainty out of your planning and give you the confidence to book, secure in the knowledge we have you covered! If you want to find out the latest advice on travel to Ecuador, Galapagos and Peru please contact us
All our Galapagos wildlife vacations have a naturalist-led cruise at their heart. Because the islands are spread over more than 200 km, by visiting on board a live-aboard Galapagos wildlife cruise, this enables you to reach the most remote and pristine parts of the archipelago
Navigating mostly at night means you to spend the best parts of the day for wildlife watching with early morning and late afternoon land visits. Then in the middle of the day you can experience some of the amazing Galapagos wildlife below the water, with some of the best snorkelling in the world.
There is no right answer to this. Galapagos truly is a year round destination thanks to its location on the equator and each month has its own special highlights. Depending on what your particular wildlife interest is, some times of the year may be better for you than others and we would be able to help guide you on this.
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The Galapagos Islands lie around 600 miles (1000km) off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean and are quite literally a living laboratory of evolution. The inspiration for Charles Darwin’s seminal work on the theory of Evolution, in many Galapagos remains pretty much as it was when Charles Darwin visited back in 1835.
There are 13 main islands and some 120 rocky islets that comprise the archipelago with an impressive 97% of the land area declared as National Park in 1959. 20 years after this the Galapagos Islands became the first ever UNESCO World Heritage site, and they remain one of the most pristine island ecosystems on Earth.
The best way to start planning your Galapagos wildlife vacation is to give us a call or contact us by email. But in case it is helpful here are answers to some questions you may have about a Galapagos wildlife vacation.
One of the things that makes the Galapagos so special is the incredibly diversity of wildlife found here. The Islands are located at point where a number of large oceanic currents converge, which gives them a truly unique range of habitats and a very elective mix of wildlife. An illustration of this is the fact that in the same day you can snorkel with penguins and see flamingos!
But what really makes the Galapagos so unique is that they have remained isolated for most of their history. The plants and animals found here were all washed or blown across from mainland South America, either by the Ocean Currents that converge on the islands or in the air and once they arrived, they were forced to adapt to the conditions here in order to survive. This evolution in isolation from mainland South America means that many of the birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and plants found in Galapagos are found nowhere else on earth.
This isolation also means that the wildlife here never learned to fear predators, most notably humans, which means they are completely fearless. In the case of marine iguanas, land iguanas and the birds, they simply don’t respond to the proximity of humans, if you are not careful and looking where you walk, you could quite literally trip over them if they are on the trail. In the case of sea lion pups, they are wonderfully curious and playful with us, creating truly outstanding wildlife encounters that are as deeply touching as they are remarkable.
All of the wildlife cruises in Galapagos have been granted their own unique 15 day itinerary by the Galapagos National Park and have permission to visit each visitor site only once in a 15 day cycle. For most guests 8 days is the optimum length of cruise, and gives you a wonderful oversight of the key Galapagos species. However in 8 days, you would normally only get to visit either the Western part of the islands or the Northern, Southern and Eastern Islands. They are both equally good and you will see almost all the key Galapagos wildlife on both of the itinerary options.
What we usually find is that one itinerary will usually appeal to you more than another depending on your wildlife interests and we always try and give guests a selection of itineraries to choose from.
The western islands have a pristine untouched quality, which is most evident as you sail along the western coast of Isabela and through the narrow Bolivar Channel separating the Island from Fernandina. The western islands receive a double dose of upwelling (from both the Humboldt and Cromwell Currents) and as a result there is cool nutrient rich water, which makes for abundant marine life, in the form of Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, Marine Iguanas and Whales… not to mention the sea birds, sea lions and the other amazing Galapagos wildlife which thrive here. Going on deck at night and seeing the numerous large bioluminescent particles is quite an experience.
WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF AN EASTERN ISLANDS CRUISE ITINERARY?
Itineraries to this part of Galapagos offer a superb mix of islands and Galapagos wildlife, and fascinating geological scenery, with pristine white beaches and great snorkeling. Usually these itineraries include both Genovesa right up in the North and Española Islands far in the south, both of which are remote outpost islands for seabirds. Great at any time of year, but in particular between the months of April – November when the Waved Albatross are to be found on Espanola, and especially in April-May time when the arrival of the cold water currents triggers the seabirds to go into full courtship mode.
ARE THERE GOOD SNORKELLING OPPORUNITIES?
The wildlife below the water in Galapagos is as fascinatingly rich and biodiverse as the wildlife on land. The waters around the Galapagos Islands are the second largest marine reserve in the world and protect on of Earths most unique marine ecosystems. Covering an area of 133,000 km3 (51,000mi2) the Galapagos Marine Reserve covers an area almost half the size of Ecuador and has been given status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are some 2900 species of native marine animals found in the waters here, of which 25% are endemic. Some of the most notable are the marine iguanas (the only sea going lizard in the world), the Galapagos Penguin (the only species native to the Northern Hemisphere), Galapagos Sea Lions, Galapagos Fur Seals, dolphins, rays, whales, some of the largest gatherings of hammerhead sharks on the planet and blue whales along with hundreds of species of colourful reef fish.
As part of your Galapagos wildlife vacation you will get lots of opportunities to explore the remarkable underwater world with usually one or two snorkelling opportunities each day. Many of our guests have never done snorkelling before their trip, and it ends up being one of the highlights.
This downloadable pre-trip information document will help you plan for your Galapagos wildlife vacation as well as answering some key questions you may have. Despite being quite long it is by no means exhaustive, so please do get in touch with any questions you may have and we would be delighted to help.
Read more about Galapagos wildlife trips in our expert blog posts.